Fall 2015

Cancer in Residence

Study finds an abundance of tanning beds near college campuses

Tanning beds, with their elevated risk of melanoma from ultraviolet radiation exposure, pose a wider threat to public health than most people realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one third of white high school girls in the U.S. use tanning beds in a year. Worse, many apartment complexes located near college campuses offer their residents free indoor tanning, thereby encouraging the use of tanning beds. In some cases that skirts the law—which may require minors to have parental consent.

300W tanning_fin

Illustration: Marc Rosenthal

A recent study done in Texas looked at apartment complexes near the campuses of the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University.

The research team, which included Diana Bartenstein, ’17, found that half the apartment buildings within a one-mile radius of UT-Austin offered free on-site tanning beds. Texas A&M was not much better: 31 percent of apartments within a two-mile radius had tanning beds ready for use.

The problem extends far beyond Texas. A recent study cited by the authors found that half of the top 125 colleges and universities either have indoor tanning facilities or make them available in nearby student housing.

The research findings were published in a JAMA Dermatology letter in early June.

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